Robert B. Livingston
August 12, 2013
Louis Uchitelle on the price Americans pay for unbridled layoffs
In a great many ways, this is an admirable and enlightening, although pessimistic, conversation between the moderator, Richard D. Heffner and journalist and author, Louis Uchitelle.
They discuss Uchitelle's book, The Disposable American.
The most intriguing idea I took away fom this program was Uchitelle's belief that most of Americans' psychiatric and social problems are a direct result of unemployment and job insecurity. This is quite novel considering that many in the psychiatric professions are instead racing to discover and medicate illusive biological defects.
Uchitelle argues that an effort should be made to educate workers that their joblessness is not due to any personal inadequacy or lack of training-- but due to broad economic forces.
Uchitelle points out his hope that Democrats might work harder to dispel popular illusions, but admits his defeat at convincing them of his ideas.
Despite his belief that the best employers avoid layoffs, he admits that even they are committed to weakening workers' power to maximize profits.
In spite of his hope for more enlightened business, Uchitelle remains convinced that there will never be enough jobs for those who are qualified for them. He suggests that government providing work when business doesn't is unrealistic given that such proposals fail in today's political environment. He excoriates obscene executive pay.
Is it any surprise that by the program's end, Heffner and Uchitelle both despair for the future?
Having aired about two years before the 2008 economic melt-down, and subsequent years of government reticence to adequately assist the unemployed, this program was quite prescient.
It is quite sad that Heffner concludes by opining that great suffering or war might one day be viewed as necessary to spur a change to America's decline.
Like so many thinkers who seem to see what is happening so clearly: big business's greed, the decline and corruption of unions, the misuse, abuse, and impoverishment of workers, the foolish and selfish expediency of politicians, the media's hype of myths-- it seems they share a strange affliction which makes them stop short, as I believe Uchetelle does, by not seriously concluding that Capitalism has out-lived itself.
Nevertheless, after watching this program, I am eager to read Uchitelle's book.